This website may ask your browser to store cookies. See our Cookies Policy for more information about our use of cookies.

Back to news index

Celebrating William Byrd – A Festival of Music in Lincolnshire (1–5 July 2023)

posted on 17/05/22

William Byrd is one of the greatest of English composers, and one of the finest composers of the European Renaissance. He died in his eighties on 4th July 1623. This festival marks the quatercentenary in spectacular fashion.

Byrd was a member of the peripatetic Chapel Royal for much of his professional life, but the single place with which he is most closely associated is Lincoln Cathedral. He was director of music here for nine years.

On the four-hundredth anniversary itself, 4th July, a plaque will be unveiled in the cathedral at a special Choral Evensong. This festival is created around that event and comprises nine other concerts in the cathedral, its chapter house and in medieval churches in towns and villages in Lincolnshire (Nottinghamshire in one case). Among them are some of the most magnificent parish churches in England.

The choral and instrumental ensembles we have assembled are some of the finest in Britain: The Tallis Scholars (Peter Phillips) leads with four appearances, and Tenebrae (Nigel Short), The Gesualdo Six (Owain Park) and Lincoln Cathedral Choir (Aric Prentice) each perform twice. Also participating are The Rose Consort of Viols (John Bryan), Fretwork Viol Consort and a choir yet to be named.

Rising high above low-lying countryside, Lincoln Cathedral is among the most bold and beautiful of Gothic buildings. Around it lies the old part of the city, a compact and picturesque enclave of streets and alleys which curve and slope across the hilltop and historic buildings. Among the sights are the castle, a copy of Magna Carta, the art gallery and various museums, and the quarter is enlivened with numerous independent shops and cafés.


Day 1, Saturday 1st July

At 2.00pm coaches leave Lincoln and Grantham Railway Station (70 minutes from London King’s Cross) for the first concert.


3.15pm, St Andrew’s Church in Heckington – Tenebrae.

Lobo: Versa est in luctum, Byrd: Ave verum corpus,

Byrd: Laudibus in sanctis, Byrd: Vigilate, Byrd:

Vigilate, Padilla: Missa Ego flos campi, Bruckner:

Virga Jesse, Bruckner: Os justi, Bruckner: Christus

actus est, Brahms: Fest- und Gedenksprüche

Coaches continue to Lincoln. Settle into hotels, dinner.


9.00pm, Lincoln Cathedral Chapter House – Tenebrae.

Byrd: O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth, Byrd: Mass for 4 Voices, De Monte: Super flumina Babylonis, Byrd: Ne irascaris Domine, James MacMillan: Miserere.


Day 2, Sunday 2nd July

Free morning in Lincoln.


2.45 and 4.00pm (the audience splits and the concert is repeated) at St Helen’s in Brant Broughton – The Tallis Scholars.

Tallis: Te Deum 'for meanes', Tallis: In jejunio et fletu, Byrd: Tristitia et anxietas, Parsons: Ave Maria, Byrd: Benedictus (from the Great Service)


5.30pm, The County Assembly Rooms in Lincoln –The Rose Consort and Martha McLorinan.

William Byrd in the Chamber: consort music and songs to include Fantasias, In Nomines and Dance Music for viols interspersed with songs both elegaic and rejoicing.


9.30pm, St Peter’s in Eastgate in Lincoln – The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork, Bill Barclay (stage director).Dinner in Lincoln.

‘Secret Byrd’, a production of Byrd’s Mass for Five Voices dramatized as if in a recusant household.


Day 3, Monday 3rd July


11.45, Church of St James, Louth – The Gesualdo Six.

Programme details to be confirmed.

Some free time and independent lunch in Louth, an attractive market town.


4.00pm, Church of St Botolph, Boston (where John Taverner c. 1490–1545 worked) – The Tallis Scholars.

Byrd: Laetentur caeli, Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas (Gloria), Taverner: Audivi, Tallis: Audivi, Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas (Credo), Byrd: Infelix ego, Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas (Sanctus and Benedictus), Byrd: Ave verum, Taverner: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas (Agnus)

Dinner in Lincoln.


Day 4, Tuesday 4th July


11.00am, Church of St Mary Magdalene in Newark-on-Trent (Nottinghamshire) – choir to be confirmed

Programme likewise to be confirmed.

Return to Lincoln for free time, or stay in Newark for independent lunch and sightseeing (castle, Georgian architecture, Civil War museum).


5.30pm, in St Hugh’s Choir, Lincoln Cathedral, with the Choir of Lincoln Cathedral and The Tallis Scholars. Unveiling of the memorial to William Byrd on the quatercentenary of his death.

Music to be confirmed.



8.45pm, Cathedral Chapter House – Choir of Lincoln Cathedral and The Tallis Scholars.

The Tallis Scholars: Byrd: Easter Propers – Introit: Resurrexi, Sequence: Victimae paschali, Gradual: Haec dies, Offertory: Terra tremuit, Communion: Pascha nostrum.

Lincoln Cathedral Choir: t.b.c.

Both choirs together: Byrd: Sing joyfully, Byrd: Great Service Magnificat, Byrd: Great Service Nunc dimittis


Day 5, Wednesday 5th July

Coaches drive to Grantham to meet specific trains. There is also the option of taking a train from Lincoln at other times.


Further details

Prices will be announced before the end of June 2022. Bookings can be taken from then – but meanwhile please register your interest with us if you want to be among the first to be given the opportunity to reserve a place.

As with all our music festivals, access to the events is exclusive to those who purchase a package which includes accommodation, dinners, coach transport and much else.

Accommodation is in four hotels in the heart of Lincoln, none more than seven or eight minutes from the cathedral.

There may be some changes to the music programmes given above.

The duration of most of the concerts is between 45 and 60 minutes; only one, in Boston, is nearly two hours and has an interval.


Join our mailing list

Sign up to our e-newsletter

Contact us